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Descartes, the father of Modern Philosophy once so famously said, “I think, therefore I am.” However, if you are an artist, then you probably can more easily empathize with the phrase, “I create, therefore I procrastinate.”
Although other occupations and hobbies are susceptible also to the procrastination blues, there’s something about creative work that lends itself easily to, for a lack of a better way of putting it, goofing around.
As a self-proclaimed artist (what is a wordsmith if not an artist?), I know precisely how it goes. You get out your tools—pen, paper, paintbrush, etc.—and you make a grand show of finally beginning your magnum opus. Then you think. Then you wait. Then you stare. Then you get out your iPhone and stalk your ex on Facebook or you play Angry Birds. Before you know it, it’s time to meet your friends out for a drink.
If this scenario sounds familiar, then here are a few tips for procrastinating artists that have helped me alleviate a bad case of procrastinitis.
1. Create an environment conducive to creating.
I know this sounds fairly obvious, but when I suggest that artists create a pleasant work environment, I don’t just mean clearing your desk of old Chinese takeout boxes. Your work of art will only be as good as the conditions under which you create. As such, it is important that you put some thought into your work space. I was amazed what a change of lighting and rearrangement of furniture could do for my motivation. And you don’t even have to have a tidy workspace, as Francis Bacon can attest.
2. Get in the rhythm.
There’s a rhythm not just in music but in everything in life as well, and that includes work. I’m sure you are familiar with the terms “getting into the zone” or “getting your groove on”, and while the muse is more on the myth side, establishing a rhythm is certainly not an urban legend. While you may have to set up a schedule to ensure that you work on your project consistently, don’t make it so strict that you end up failing and disappointing yourself and procrastinating. Do set aside a daily, weekly, and monthly or project-by-project timeline, but make it flexible.
3. Inspire yourself.
While we can sit around all day waiting for the muse to inspire us, remember that this supposed muse resides within ourselves, as corny as that sounds. You know yourself more than anyone in this world, and you know precisely what external stimuli stimulate your creative capacity. Whatever it is that gets going—whether it’s watching a movie, listening to music, or going to the museum—actively seek it out and make time for it. Activities such as these are definitely not time wasters, so go out there and find the inspiration you need to get started.
4. Minimize distractions.
Especially in the 21st century, distractions are a dime a dozen. Do your best to set aside a time and place for those distractions so you can get your fix, then establish a distraction-free zone in which you put away the Internet, the smart phone, and send your kids out to play. Since people can be just as distracting as technology, make it clear to all that even though you are engaging in the infinitely fun activity of creating art, you are also doing serious work
*This guest post was contributed by Barbara Jolie. She welcomes your comments at her email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
photo from http://www.photoree.com/